Updated: May 10
A few years ago, I sat on a therapist’s couch, sobbing. Something was very wrong with me. I had a short fuse, I shouted at my kids; I felt angry all the time; I hated myself. I had dragged my husband with me, sure there was something that must be fixed in the way our lives worked together. After one session the therapist said, “Well, your marriage seems ok, but YOU are clearly depressed.” He requested to work with me alone, and when the time came, we could work on my marriage. But I was in bad shape, and this must be addressed.
The next week, I flopped on the therapist’s couch, limp and swelling inside from the pressure of holding in my emotions. I spoke to him about my disappointment in myself, in not being able to fulfill my deepest wish to be a better person, a better mom. I felt I was failing in every way, and no matter how much I wanted to feel happy and to be warm and understanding, I just could not.
I spoke of feeling there was nothing and no one in my life that was pure; that I wanted a teacher and a friend to teach me how to be the person I wanted to be. The therapist listened well, and he asked me the right question, “Have you ever known someone who embodied these things?” And I started to sob. My honorary Uncle Kevin, the best person I had known. He died when I was pregnant with my daughter. Her middle name is his last name. I could not see him when he died because we had moved to New Jersey from California and were closing on our house, having a baby, and going down to one income that very week. But I should have rushed there, no matter the cost. I will always regret that.
Kevin was a Buddhist. He was very wise, and he had a hearty laugh. He collected family around him; he brought people together. I wanted to be like him, but he was gone, and I had no one to teach me how.
The therapist listened, and at the end of the session, he told me that there was a Buddhist center in my town. I had seen it before, and I had longed to go, but for some reason I never did. Self-sabotage I suppose. The therapist urged me to try it. It was the best advice I have ever been given, it changed my life.
My first dharma class was about gratitude. A happy, bubbly teacher sat and taught us to recognize that we exist within a web of kindness. She described looking at even just a few moments of our day and all the human kindness and effort that went into bringing even breakfast into our experience. It was a simple and beautiful reminder to look outside of myself. To find the beauty and the blessings and the love that surround me in every moment of my life. She taught us meditation and then ended the class with prayer. I left that first dharma class feeling already the darkness was lifting. I attended these classes from that moment on two or three times per week, and within two weeks, my depression was lifted.
My feet were set upon a path that I continue to walk. I have been practicing Buddhism and A Course in Miracles, non-dualistic paths to enlightenment, and I have found a way to cope. I have found relief from anxiety, purpose in my life, and an eternal fountain of hope and joy. Even when I falter, which is daily, I know I am forgiven. Thank God for this blessed life.
It is my wish that all beings find peace and happiness. I hope these stories help you feel less alone. I hope the lessons I have learned can help you in any small way to begin to look where the problem always lies, in our minds. Thankfully this is so because then it can be changed.
I offer you so much love, more than I can adequately describe. We are brothers on this journey. Om Mane Padme Hum.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton